I cannot maintain this space....

quiltgloOctober 18, 2007

Okay, gulp. I took the picture about a month ago. Got rid of some more fabric, created some more boxes which fit on the shelves to corral floss, etc. Got pictures hung up. Got items out of there which didn't belong.

Spent a week sewing and BAM! Right back where I started from, if not worse. I go through this over and over. This space is 8x10. I'd planned on getting custom shelving and work tables built, but I cannot seem to figure out how to work in this space. It's a cool space. It has a small staircase right where I'm standing and behind me is a mirror image of this space, only I use it as a sitting/reading/thinking space. It has a door which opens up to my rooftop garden over the garage. And it's mine, all mine.

I like open storage. I don't want to have to open doors to grab what I need. I need to be able to use all three machines, iron, do my rug making, or be able to clear off a table space for doing crafts with the kids. My middle aged eyes are catching up with me, so I really need the machine I'm using to be under the natural light of the window. I really do use the iron on a daily basis. I usually use my machine several times a week.

I've looked at those sewing tables, but once it was set up I wouldn't have room to walk around it and I would again be away from the light. Anything else and I'll have to have it shipped, so it's hard for me to know if it would meet my needs. I can only get rid of so much...I don't have great access to the type of stuff I work with, so when I find it I have to grab it (lets not even talk about my stash of wool in the laundry room.)

I keep thinking that if I would get the furniture it would fix the problem, but I know my thinking is skewed. If I can't keep my cheap-o shelves organized having expensive ones won't fix that. Or maybe it would if I had rollers put on the bottoms of the tables.

I'm stuck.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Gloria - At first glance, if that is a working baseboard heater, you need to get that table away from it. Its blocking heat!! I hear you about needing the light, but surely there is an alternative. I have a floor lamp just like yours and it is quite adjustable. Or how about one of those artificial daylight lamps. That said, I'd put that large table at the far end and some shelves above that. If there is room at one end of the table, maybe one of those clear stacked drawer things. That way you would have most of that left side wall space to play with.

I'm thinking adjustable shelving with clear bins. Can you give the kids their own individual containers to maintain? Just throwing out ideas ;-)

Here's a link to Angelcub's fabric stash and there is another pic in that link of her with one of her quilts in her room. It is totally organized and one I go back to when I get the "I wishes".

Here is a link that might be useful: Angelcub's stash

    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 5:45AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Before you pay for built-ins I hope you will design your entire space on scaled paper. And do an elevation drawing for each wall.

You need to utilize those corners, esp. in such a narrow room.

THE most helpful book is Dream Sewing Space by Lynette Black. You MUST have it. Gives you all the planning tools you need and your space just cries out for thorough planning. Don't get discouraged by the title. Yes, there are big rooms there, but also closet-sized spaces. Storage is thoroughly addressed, as is ergonomics. Workflow is a huge issue and you need to decide on that before you have anything built.

What an opportunity you have! Have fun with the planning.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 7:40AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Personally, I would put floor to ceiling wall mounted wire shelving on the small back wall. It would really open up your floorspace

I used it on one wall of my previous sewing room. (I bought my system at Home Depot)
I sorted all my supplies into white office storage boxes from Staples, labeled the outside with contents. I spaced the shelving where I could just barely squeeze the boxes in, heavy ones on the bottom, lighter ones at the top. I never took pictures but I know I had at least 36 boxes. Everything had a home and there was a home for everything.

It's similar to the link for angelcub, I went for less expensive and lighter boxes instead of plastic totes.

I would also invest in more task lighting with full spectrum light (think Ott lamp without the big price tag!) so you can work anywhere, not just by the window.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 8:48AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I second Pinktoes' recommendation of Dream Sewing Spaces. It's available on eBay (link below).

I've never had a sewing room, so I'm not much help. But there's a lot to be said for clear plastic boxes on shelves.

What kind of rugs do you make? I'm a rug hooker (traditional, using strips of old wool clothing), or at least I have been. I want very much to get back to it this winter.

Good luckI'll look forward to your progress!


    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 10:10AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Also avail. from amazon. When a book like this is now available used for more than amazon's original list price, you know it's gotta be good. Oh, I just looked at my copy again and in the back found a great design for my pantry closet. (Why pantries in a sewing space book? Because the author showed how she cut down her pantry, by designing it better, in order to capture more space for her SEWING supplies! Sewers! LOL.)

    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 10:27AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

First -- start with the "pattern" of the room -- measure the floorspace -- and then each wall space. Measure your basic equipment -- and plan a pattern on paper for your room!!

Does the paint color work for your eyesight? Or perhaps a simple soft white on the walls and ceiling would work better? What about a simple cafe style curtain on the window?

Yes -- invest in some really good lighting and lamps. Start with overhead lighting -- think of switching to a modern track lighting system -- those units have come a long long way!! Then add the "natural" light lamps too! Those steps alone will allow you to work around the whole room!

Next -- investigate basic shelving -- white, wire or metal from local sources. Looking at the photo -- you REALLY need to replace the shelving on the end wall -- so that every single inch of possible wall is used for craft and sewing supplies!! Add simple see-through plastic boxes to that shelving. Measure the boxes -- and measure the shelving! Label them with a label-maker.

Think of this room as a "quilting project" -- measure, plan and piece it together!

    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 10:35AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

One of my friend's has a storage are sort of like the bins on Angiecub's icture except she has clear plastic drawers that slide in and out. I like the idea of deeper built in shelves or drawers on the back wall.

How many sewing machines do you have in there? Are they light enough to move around and store in shelves while they aren't being used? You're best fix might be the new lighting already suggested.

Someone posted a picture a while back of an ironing board that drops down from the wall (maybe Talley Sue?). I think that would be something you would be more likely to pack up after each use instead of a big ironing board. I'd add a cabinet or shelf for the iron, starch and anything related just to give it a home even while you are working so you don't have to store it on the iron. I'd also add a bar for hangng clothes directly under it so whatever you're ironing has a place to hang until you're finished with the rest of the ironing.

I'm curious about the pictures and bulletin board on the walls? Are those things in that room because you want them there? Or are they there because you can't find any place else for them? I hang things on the walls of my garage or upstairs in my unfinished areas because I don't know what to do with them. They don't look 'right' in those places, but yet I don't get rid of them because they are hard to replace, sentimental, or I spent a lot of money to buy them. Sometimes, they add to the clutter n the room even though though they aren't really in the way.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 10:39AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

If I can't keep my cheap-o shelves organized having expensive ones won't fix that

I don't think I agree w/ this. I think your cheap-o shelves are too small, they have too much wasted headroom, and they're NOT providing you w/ the right size & shape of places to put stuff. I know you've added bins to them that aren't shown in this picture, but they're still not a good approximation of what you truly need.

You have tables, and one little bookcase thingie (which is too short, and has decorative stuff on it). No wonder stuff is sitting on the flor and the chair, etc. You don't have enough places to put it. (this is not the place or the time to insist that you pare down)

You know me, I'm all about infrastructure. (well,not always, but often) Also, I live in NYC--I see the benefits of building UP!

Either shelves on the floor, or wall-mounted, so that the height of the walls is working FOR you. You already have give up that floor space; give up some wall space as well. It is blank; it should be full. The room feels clogged around your feet, and way too open up above.

For a long, skinny room, you might consider floor-to-ceiling bookcases on the LEFT wall there, the long wall--w/ a work table at the far end, w/ really good artificial lighting to counter its distance from the window. That will leave you a bit more floor space, so you won't feel so crowded. Don't use bookcases as deep as the worktables you have there--10" would be enough, esp. if they filled the wall.

Mount shelves over that worktable, and install a good-sized flourescent light under the bottom shelf.

And, in the now-slightly-bigger middle area, you can pull a table to the middle of the room for kids' craft projects; there might be room for everyone to sit around the table.

(speaking of crowded, ditch that extra chair, LOL!)

This is a workroom, so I don't see any need to hide stuff away, etc. This is function, not beauty. Functionality rules. If you need a certain level of "visual calm," create that.

Can you find away to try some solution out without a huge investment in money and time? Can you get boards & bricks, and try a tall bookcase on that wall? Or are you willing to buy some wall-mounted shelf standards and brackets, and can you find something to set on them for shelves?

also, can you try drawers under the worktable you sit at? To create a sort of "desk," just like in an office? For the smaller tools you need as you work.

(your final solution might have some shelving under those tables if you don't like drawers--or, maybe you have a bin or two that lives under the tables, and corrals the current project)

(you could also put pegboard on the wall directly over the worktable, yes even under the window, to hold scissors, and other "grab 'em right now" tools)

If you mounted shelves over a worktable, you could put a big flourescent life under the bottom shelf. Bingo--LIGHT!

You might consider a pull-out sort of work surface that would roll under the table when not needed. Like TV cart sort of thing.

I don't think I'd do a wall-hung ironing board in a craft room; I'd just leave the board out, and try to make sure have a place to shove it out of the way when I don't need it for a big job (but can still use it for a small touch-up)

    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 11:29AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Ooooo, a room of your own. Now you just have to treat it (and yourself) with the specialness it deserves. Make Virginia Wolf proud.

If I sewed, I would divy up the short wall end into three or 4 segments and sew split tailored tie back panels for each segment. Drop them from that angled ceiling ASAP. Shove everything behind and close them for now. Deal with that later.

Enjoy the lovely private space. Maybe paint.

Then focus on your sewing tables and how to make them pleasant and functional. Good lighting. Comfortable chair. Convenient but tidy storage of all the little things you need for sewing. A little rolling drawer unit under the table might work well.

Then tackle that storage wall one segment at a time with a shelving plan. I'm liking those clear boxes. Maybe leave one segment unobstructed for storage of bolts and the ironing board. Possibly a pole for hanging ironed pieces. And one with a (limited space) area to stash quickly any building clutter that needs another step to get home. (Not anticipating that the clutter will return again, but as insurance that it shall NOT take over again.) The center shelved sections hopefully will end up tidy and pleasant and the tiebacks there can stay tied back one day. The room is so long and narrow that a storage wall softened with fabric would look very nice I think.

You deserve a wonderful uplifting space. Give it to yourself. Same as you would for anyone you care about.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 12:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Your space sounds so nice! I think, just looking at the picture, the first thing that comes to my mind, is you need to get things off the floor and into bins of some sort, and on shelves. Here's an inexpensive storage shelf unit I bought at a home improvement store sev. years ago - very sturdy (meant for garage storage) and it held alot. I have tons of those clear plastic bins, and have them labeled at the end. Also, I'd utilize wall space with a pegboard, and hang up as many tools as you can - they're more accessible that way too. Good luck with this project, and let us see the "after" pictures too.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 1:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I love the suggestions that you have gotten. I only have two small ones.

I love love love having a bulletin board above my sewing area. Perfect for hanging pattern instructions... I don't "lose" them by setting them aside while working on other things...... they are always on the bulletin board till completed.

The other thing is the same thing I go thru with DH. Plastic bags with project pieces -- with him its screws and nails etc. Nothing "trashes" up a space faster than plastic bags laying around.

I have a large basket that I "dump" my project pieces .. until they can be put away. Looks neater-- not out of sight -- but the bags aren't always around.

I look forward to all the suggestions. We are moving in an old farm building to turn into a fiber studio for me. Looms, spinning wheel, yarn winders etc ... along with a place for my sewing machine (someplace that doesn't double as the dining room table!) So I hope to gleam some great ideas off of this!!


    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 3:12PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I don't sew but I did read a hint that I thought was ingenious. A clothesline was placed in a room near a wall and ribbon spools were hung from it. I personally really like the idea of better shelving on the back wall and using bins for storage. But I think the clothesline idea could be used for fabrics you are currently working with or ribbons.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 3:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Nothing "trashes" up a space faster than plastic bags laying around.

OH YEAH! this is a huge thing in my house; DD carries stuff off to school, etc., in plastic bags, brings them back, and leaves them lying around!.

Clink, I like the idea of the basket.

a place to put the current project, in all its pieces, is the toughest part of any sewing or crafts or projects I do. And I *need* something, bcs I have no dedicated space for that; all crafts are done on the DR table, which is in the middle of the home.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 4:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

OK, the wannabe carpenter in me is dreaming:

If you use one machine at a time....

Picture a table under the window, at a good sewing height, w/ a cutout that's open to the front.

Picture each machine sitting on its own small cart, each cart made to the height that lifts the machine's work surface to be even w/ that table's work surface. And made *just* big enough to hold the machine itself, so that when you aren't using that machine, it doesn't take up much space.

So you roll the machine into the niche (maybe a board on the underside of the table stops it at the back, so it stays in the right position). The cutout is one size, but maybe the cart itself have whatever filler you'd need to keep a nearly unbroken work surface all the way under the needle.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 7:13PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I've been lurking on this forum for the last couple of days. This post and the picture have forced me out of lurkdom!
I don't quilt but I LOVE fabric. So many great ideas already. I especially agree with the lighting. Yesterday at Home Depot I saw some halogen full spectrum lightbulbs meant to fit into regular sockets/lamps. Think track lighting with halogens (that bright white light) coupled with some light fixtures near your work space with the full spectrum/daylight bulbs. Track halogen kits are available at the hardware box sotres for under $50.00.
Number 2 on my list is a CHAIR! I use a cheapo computer chair. I like the adjustable height and the casters. You can wheel from machine to machine or machine to iron!!!! Cheapo chairs can be had at the box office supply stores on sale for under $40.00. If you sew alot perhaps an even more expensive(more comfortable/supportive)chair would be worth the investment.
Number 3 is storage. I collect/store large quantities of yardage for drapes, slipcovers and duvets, etc. I like shelves. My impression is that quilters tend to need lots of smaller pcs of fabric. I couldn't use paper boxes because I have to SEE the fabric. I think if the plastic bins can work for you these are a great solution. Ditto the ADJUSTABLE shelving to store them on. I really like the industrial shelving shown in the picture above. You can space the shelves close together and configure it to be tall and narrow or short and wide. If money were no object I'd probably consider buying one of those metal tool chests. I covet these!!! There are plenty of shallow FULL EXTENSION drawers for scissors, needles, bobbins, thread, etc, etc. Can you tell I want one of these?? If you can't spring for one of these (me either:()the plastic stacked drawers on casters can fit under a work surface.
And speaking of work surface, have you thought about a hollow core door mounted on brackets instead of a table? The doors are light, cheap and come in a variety of widths. When you buy them you can get them without the hole for the knob. If you have a salvage building supply store, they are even cheaper!! They can be painted, stained or covered in fabric. I can see several doors mounted on brackets extending from the wall with the window. You could have all your machines set up and wheel from one to the other!! Too cool.
Of course, paint, a few decorative items will make it truly yours. Good luck and sorry for the length:)

    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 8:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

" If I can't keep my cheap-o shelves organized having expensive ones won't fix that"

I agree with that.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 8:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Okay. I've got this printed off and I'm ready to sit down and start highlighting. A few other things I've made note of; I don't have drywall or plaster--the walls are cement board so putting things up is a challenge. Plugs. One main plug is behind the shelves and the other plug is below the window, which is limiting placement.

wantoretire, yep, that's hot water baseboard heat. We hadn't turned the heat back on when I took that picture. I go around every fall making sure things are away so the air can move. When I forget to pull the table away, the massive amount of heat hitting my legs quickly reminds me.

No school tomorrow, so we'll check out B & N and see if I can look at some of those books before buying.


    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 11:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

cement board--can you use Tapcon screws, and a hammer drill? That's how we installed our shelf standards on our brick-and-cement-lathe walls.

Plugs: If you've got a plug on the end wall, that's all the more reason why NOT to have shelves there, and instead to have them on the long wall.

If you go w/ custom furniture, can you have the edge of that table (over the baseboard) made w/ a vent, so air can move?

I did a "peek inside" that Amazon.com link, and that book looks pretty good.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2007 at 9:24AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

hi quiltglo
let me just say first, it's not so bad!! like talley sue i also disagree that your experience with fancier shelves will not be different. i see several problems with your current shelves that would be remedied by built in shelves. first, they do not extend all the way to the walls and so you lose space on the shelves actually. if you put things too close to the ends of the shelves they could fall off. you can fix this problem if the shelf goes all the way to the wall. i have also found that shelves need vertical dividers in the middle, for me anyway, to prevent spreading junk. second, the shelves are too far apart, they should only be as far apart as the items that you will store there (bins or piles of stuff). just MHO, take it or leave it. my favorite suggestion is the set of curtains and just hide it all! good luck!! it looks like a nice room for one activity. any bigger and it might become a repository for other stuff...in my house it would


    Bookmark   October 19, 2007 at 10:14AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

oh, plugs: I don't know what money is like for you, but....

You *can* add plugs to a room (even to a cement-board room; you can run conduit on the surface and paint it to match the wall, if you're willing to live w/ the look), and to some folks, that expense would be worth it to create a room layout that truly is effective.

You can also use Plugmold, which is much more discreet; it can look a bit like baseboard, and you can use a plain "raceway" for the parts where you don't want an outlet to distract from the look.

My dad once told me that in Des Moines, electricians charge about $160 per receptacle. Who knows what adding an outlet where you want it would cost where you are. But something to keep in mind, if you decide a different layout it really what you need.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2007 at 11:06AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


I don't think you have adequate or correct storage for the items you have to contend with.

Check out an episode of Mission Organization on HGTV, titled 'Sorting out the Sewing Room'. It looks like exactly what you need on your long wall to the left. I would then place a table on the end wall that will extend all the way across, or short enough that you can place another table on the wall along the window to form an ell. This table is for cutting out fabric, doing crafts with the kids, etc. I would also place the hooks on the end of the wall shelving to hold my ironing board when not in use.

If you take the approach that MI does, the first thing you want to do is take everything out of the room and start with a clean palette. Pack like stuff with like so that putting away is organized. This also helps you see how much of one thing you have. So all thread goes on the same box, etc. Then plan your infra-structure (shelves, etc.) paint if you want a new color.
Check out some of the websites for organizational products for ideas of ways to store thing.

I would definitely get a rolling chair, I see two foam pads on the folding chair you have been using.

Good luck, and we will anxiously await the after pictures.


    Bookmark   October 19, 2007 at 1:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I agree with the rolling chair. I use my cheep office desk chair all over my office ,sewing, mosaic room. I have the plastic floor thing by the desk but the rest of the room is carpet. Chair works GREAT for every activity and I can adjust the height easily.

I also like the curtain idea to hide the shelves if for no other reason but to help keep the fabric clean of dust. If you sew the rod pocket loose enough it would be easy to move aside. I am a big fan of floor length curtains. I took the closet doors off in my office and guest room and have curtains on the sides front to back hiding the shelves I built to hold the cemetery books on one side and more of my fabric on the other side. Glass and china in the guest room on one side and odd ball tings on the other side.


    Bookmark   October 19, 2007 at 10:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I also like having my stuff readily visible and easily accessible, but it's so easy to get it scattered about. Some things that help me are:

1) wrapping fabric on boards (just pieces of heavy cardboard cut from boxes, about 1/2 inch shorter than the height between two shelves of a bookcase). It makes it easier to store the fabric, because you can squash the fabric into the shelves vertically, just like in the fabric store, but still see what you have on hand at any time, and it doesn't flop around and collapse when you pull out one item. (Admittedly, I haven't yet put up shelves in my closet, so right now all my stuff is in precarious piles). If you can adjust your shelves to fit a full bolt vertically, you could probably just bring home your fabric on the bolt--most fabric stores have a whole stack of those cardboard things sitting around waiting to be thrown out, and will gladly give them to you.

2) Shoeboxes are a good idea because of the visibility, but I hate unstacking and re-stacking to get to notions. I end up pulling out a bunch of boxes and never putting them back. I got a couple of plastic carts with shallow drawers (most of these, if you remove the base of one unit and the top of another unit, can be stacked two or three high to get more use of floor space). These are great for zippers, binding and other notions, as well as for miscellaneous craft supplies.

3) You absolutely must get a pegboard! They are FABULOUS organizational tools. They're about 2.75 for a 2-foot by 4-foot piece, and you can get a whole box of hooks and accessories for under $10. You've got room to the left of the sewing table where you can put up a HUGE pegboard. (If the plain brown mdf bugs you, you can paint it or paper over it--I modpodged scrapbook paper on mine, and it doesn't interfere at all with poking hooks into it). My pegboards hold scissors, pinking shears, rotary cutter, embroidery hoops, measuring tapes, and I stuck on a couple of cup-type holders for miscellaneous marking pens, crochet hooks, and paint brushes. Also have hooks for rotary cutting mat and quilting ruler, and a couple of long hooks for hanging garments I'm working on at the time. I've got a separate thread rack, but I've seen people use pegboards for thread racks as well.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2007 at 6:16AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
under sink organization (kitchen)
Had to share this photo. It is perfect use of the dead...
What to do with hundreds of CDs
I have nice storage boxes filled with hundreds of CDs...
Getting rid of part of an item- WWYD
Okay, here's the question: I have a larger, aluminum...
Organizing/de cluttering success (please share yours too!)
I cleaned out and organized the tool box! We live in...
Please recommend a good paper shredder
I have a little one that can shred two sheets (max)...
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™